In this research an engineering methodology is developed for quantifying the cost-effectiveness of corrosion-resistant Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) prestressed and reinforced concrete highway bridges. The developed methodology, based on life cycle cost analysis, will provide a point of reference for determining the economical bridge alternative as a function of bridge spans, traffic volume, and climate region. The alternatives considered are a traditional epoxy coated steel reinforced concrete bridge, a steel reinforced bridge with external corrosion resisting measures, and a CFRP reinforced bridge. The bridge geometry for all alternatives is a post-tensioned side-by-side box beam bridge. The life cycle analysis includes cost components of initial construction; inspection, repair and maintenance cost; user delays and work-zone accidents; and demolition. The analysis period is 100 year. Throughout this period the performance of the alternatives must be the same.  An activity timing plan for each alternative will be proposed based on structural conditions of different real-life bridges and common bridge maintenance practices. The analysis is performed through a deterministic and a probabilistic approach.

The results of this research will promote the implementation of CFRP as main reinforcement in highway bridges. While prior field and laboratory investigations have proven the structural performance of CFRP reinforcement, economic models are not available to quantify when CFRP reinforcement is a cost-effective solution. The reduced future repair events of the CFRP compared to the traditional reinforced bridge will offset the higher initial construction cost. This proposed methodology will allow the research community and transportation agencies in identifying and quantifying the economical long-term and short-term advantages and disadvantages of bridge alternatives.

Funding:  National Science Foundation, Award: 0911091